By Adam Clifford
Men’s Semi Final 1
NSW Pride kept their Sultana Bran Hockey One League defence alive with a five-star penalty shootout performance to defeat minor premiers Brisbane Blaze 5-3 after scores were locked 1-1 at full time.
The match was haltered with just under seven minutes remaining in the second quarter as a waterlogged pitch became unsafe for play to continue.
But 15 minutes later the skies cleared and Blaze defender Tim Howard opened the scoring with a tomahawk penalty corner rebound seconds before the main break.
NSW Pride looked dangerous on the counterattack and in the 36th minute Howard’s Kookaburras teammate Matt Dawson found an equaliser with a low hard strike past Blaze goalkeeper Mitchell Nicholson’s left foot.
The match became a grind as Pride pair Tom Craig and Jack Hayes battled against Kookaburras duo Jake Whetton and Daniel Beale.
The Blaze were reduced to ten men for the final five minutes of the match with the sin binning of Jayden Atkinson but held off a late Pride onslaught to take the match to a shootout.
With a spot in the grand final on the line, it was a perfect five attempts from the Pride with Craig, Hayes, Ky Willott, Flynn Ogilvie and Daine Richards all converting.
The Blaze had Jacob Anderson fire wide of the net with their opening effort but kept themselves in the contest with conversions from Cale Cramer, Corey Weyer and Beale.
Brisbane Blaze 1 (Howard 30’)
NSW Pride 1 (Dawson 37’)
NSW Pride wins shootout 5-3
Umpires: Daniel Johnston & Tim Sheahan
Brisbane Blaze Men’s Team: 2.Shane Kenny, 3.Corey Weyer, 5.Lucas Brown, 7.Joel Rintala, 8.Adam Imer, 9.Jacob Anderson, 10.Jayden Atkinson, 11.Michael Francis, 12.Jake Whetton (c), 15.Cale Cramer, 16.Tim Howard, 17.Scott Boyde, 23.Daniel Beale, 27.Jared Taylor, 32.Mitchell Nicholson (gk)
NSW Pride Men’s Team: 2.Tom Craig, 5.Ash Thomas (gk), 6.Matthew Dawson, 7.Daine Richards, 8.Nathaniel Stewart, 9.Nathan Czinner, 14.Dylan Martin, 15.Miles Davis, 19.Thomas Brown, 20.Ky Willott, 22.Flynn Ogilvie, 23.Ryan Proctor, 25.Jack Hayes (c), 26.Ehren Hazell, 28.Sam Gray
Men’s Semi Final 2
The Perth Thundersticks have played their way into their first Sultana Bran Hockey One League grand final with a thrilling 6-3 defeat of Canberra Chill.
A hat-trick from Tom Wickham looked to have sealed victory for the Thundersticks before the Chill mounted an almighty fightback only to ultimately fall short.
It took the Thundersticks just four minutes to open their account through Will Battistessa’s thunderbolt reverse stick strike and shortly after Brodee Foster slid in to knock past Kookaburras keeper Andrew Charter.
Foster’s conversion opportunity would strike the woodwork before Ben Staines sent a powerful penalty corner flick inches wide as quarter time approached.
Perth controlled proceedings in the second and third term pushing themselves out to a 6-0 advantage with Wickham helping himself to three goals and Cambell Geddes sending a cannon flick beyond Charter.
But in a fightback reminiscent of their league win against the Tassie Tigers, the Chill refused to bow down and incredibly forced six set piece opportunities in the final term.
A converted goal from Chill skipper Ben Craig and another fantastic finish from Aiden Dooley brought the underdogs within three goals, but Perth goalkeeper Tyler Lovell came up huge at the death to secure their safe passage to tomorrow’s big dance.
Canberra Chill 3 (Craig 54’/54’, Dooley 57’)
Perth Thundersticks 6 (Battistessa 4’, Foster 11’, Geddes 20’, Wickham 24’/37’/37’)
Umpires: Zeke Newman & Jim Unkles
Canberra Chill Men’s Team: 2.Ben Staines, 3.Anand Gupte, 4.James Day, 6.Connor Tuddenham, 7.Ben Craig (c), 8.Sean Baker, 9.Jamie Hawke, 10.Owen Chivers, 11.Garry Backhus, 12.Jake Staines, 15.Hayden Dillon, 16.Oscar Smart, 17.Aidan Dooley, 24.Davis Atkin, 30.Andrew Charter (gk)
Perth Thundersticks Men’s Team: 1.Chris Bausor, 2.Will Battistessa, 3.Tim Geers, 4.Jake Harvie, 5.Bryn de Bes, 6.James Collins, 7.Tyler Lovell (gk), 8.Brodee Foster, 10.Tom Wickham, 11.Tom Harvie, 13.Cambell Geddes, 14.Liam Flynn, 17.Aran Zalewski (c), 21.Ross Hall, 24.Matt Willis
Men’s Grand Final
Perth Thundersticks v NSW Pride
Match Start: 4:15pm AEDT
LIVE on FOX Sports 507 and Kayo